Willingness to Believe    Posted:

The others did not know what to think, but Lucy was so excited that they all went back with her into the room. She rushed ahead of them, flung open the door of the wardrobe and cried, "Now! go in and see for yourselves."

I am not a careful reader. This is not something to boast about, but it does mean that I am often able to find new enjoyment and new insights in reading something for the nth time. Today it was The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, which I'm reading to the children for the second time (their second time, my many-eth). It struck me, in particular, how well Lewis understood children, despite being a bachelor most of his life. For when Lucy first comes back from Narnia, full of wonder, she tells the other Pevensie children about her experience, and they do not disbelieve her. Oh, they are skeptical. But they are willing.

Far too often, implicit disbelief in anything new is the watchword of adult existence. It's sad, really.


Not Clear on the Concept    Posted:

My kids were telling jokes, and the two-year-old decided she needed to be part of the fun.

"Knock, knock!" she said.

"Who's there?" I replied.

"It's me!"


Raising a Child in the Church    Posted:

But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 19:14)

One of the things all Christian parents worry about, I think, is how best to catechize their children. Orthodox Christians have a very strong helper in the Church's services, which are quite didactic. It's been said that in order to learn what the Church teaches, you don't need to read any books—you just need to come to services.

Still, this is not license to abrogate my parental responsibilities; and I know that children absorb quite a bit more than we often give them credit for. My two-year-old and I had never spoken directly about the nature of the Eucharist. So at Liturgy this morning, during the beginning of the Koinonikon, when she pointed at the Royal Doors, then closed, I whispered, "Yes, in just a minute, he's going to come out from there." She didn't respond, so I asked, "Who's going to come out?"

"Father," she said.

"Yes, and then what?" I asked.

She touched her lips.

"No, use your words. What's he going to give us?"

"Jesus," she said.

Looks like I needn't have worried.


Thoughts on Pentecost: Taking Children to Church    Posted:

As many as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ. Alleluia!

As many as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ. Alleluia!

As many as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ. Alleluia!

On Pentecost, as at baptisms (and Theophany), the Church substitutes this line from St. Paul's letter to the Galatians for the normal exclamation of the Trisagion during the Liturgy. Just as an individual Christian's death and rebirth in baptism is followed by chrismation—"the seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit"—so for the Church as a whole, Pascha is followed by Pentecost.

This morning was hard. Well, it's never quite easy taking five children to church, but this morning was particularly difficult, with much fidgeting and flailing, even whining and crying. Sigh.

Still, as I was standing there, correcting them every so often (stand still, don't pull your dress up, quit picking up the laurel on the floor and tearing it apart, don't hit your brother, listen and sing—well, you get the idea), we began to sing the Cherubic Hymn:

Let us who mystically represent the Cherubim, and who sing the thrice-holy hymn to the life-creating Trinity, now lay aside all earthly cares....

And that hymn, as it does every Sunday, quiets me, reminds me why, in truth, I am standing there, and not just me, but all my family. "That we"—me, my wife, my children, and all us Christians—"may receive the King of all, who comes invisibly upborne by the angelic hosts." And I began to reflect on Pentecost, and what the indwelling of the Holy Spirit means. St. Seraphim of Sarov famously identified the aim of the Christian life as the acquisition of the Holy Spirit. And I thought of how to see that in my own life, and I remembered.

I remembered watching my seven-year-old reading his bedtime prayers, intent upon each word. The Spirit is Purpose.

I remembered my six-year-old singing the Our Father in her sweet, high voice, quiet but radiant. The Spirit is Peace.

I remembered attending my cousin's wedding at a Catholic church, where there was a statue of the Theotokos. My four-year-old came up to me, in a brief respite from playing before the service began and, pointing at the statue, said as though telling a secret, "Daddy, that's God's mom." The Spirit is Truth.

I remembered more than one occasion, when during the Liturgy the priest comes through the Royal Doors bearing the Eucharist, my two-year-old squeals, "Yay!" The Spirit is Joy.

I remembered my one-year-old slumbering in his mother's arms, while the priest gently touched him with the cross in blessing. The Spirit is Rest.

O heavenly King, comforter, Spirit of truth, who art everywhere present and fillest all things, treasury of blessings, and giver of life, come and abide in us, cleanse of us every impurity, and save our souls, O good one.


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